Boys Against Girls

Free Boys Against Girls by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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Authors: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Josh were on top, Wally and Jake on the bottom.
    “Ready, set, go!” Eddie whispered, and the girls crept up behind them and dropped the ice from their cups down the collars of Wally and Jake.
    It was all over in a minute. Wally and Jake reared back, Peter and Josh tumbled on top of them, and the girls ran pell mell back to the gate, but were stopped by the security guard.
    “We were just in there!” Caroline explained. “We only came out for a minute.”
    “Ticket stubs?” said the guard.
    Caroline looked at her sisters. Mother had them¡
    “We—we left them with Mom’ said Beth.
    “Sorry’ said the guard. “Can't let you in without the stubs.”
    “But we're—” Eddie stopped. The girls all knew that their father did not like them trying to get special privileges by using his name, but this was an emergency. “We're Coach Malloy's daughters.”
    “Coach Malloy's daughters, and they don't even know enough to keep their ticket stubs? Coach Malloy's daughters, and they'd leave right in the middle of the game? I doubt it,” said the guard.
    In the background the Hatford boys hooted derisively.
    What happened was that the girls had to hang around the gate until the game was over, because the Hatford boys were lying in wait for them if they had tried to walk home. Caroline hoped that Mother would come looking for them, but she didn't, and they were tired and cold and cranky when the game ended at last, a three-point win by Buckman, and Mother came out with the crowd.
    “Where on earth did you go? Did you see the field goal in the last two minutes of the game?”
    “We went out the gate and the guard wouldn't let us back in,” said Beth. “All we want is to go home.”
    Mother got out the car keys.
    “Well, for heaven's sake, then, you should havegone on home. Why were you hanging around?” she asked. And then, without waiting for an answer, she said, “You know, I am really beginning to like this little town. I met a number of faculty members tonight, and it's so nice being called by my first name.”
    The girls piled into the car. “In fact,” said Mother, “I'm feeling very comfortable with the community in general. Do you know where we're going for Thanksgiving this year?”
    “Ohio?” Caroline guessed.
    “No, I got a call from Mrs. Hatford this morning. We're invited over there.”
    Caroline stared at her sisters. The Hatfords? The Horrible Hatfords? Them?
    “I think it's wonderful. She said she knew we didn't have any relatives down here, and if we weren't going back to Ohio for Thanksgiving we were welcome at their table. I told her we'd love to come, and I'd bring the pies.”
    There was no sound at all from the backseat. To have to sit behind Wally Hatford every day for the rest of fourth grade was bad enough, Caroline thought, but to have to sit across the table from him at Thanksgiving and be nice?
    “Do we have a choice?” Eddie asked after a minute.
    “No, you do not,” Mother said.

Seventeen

Letters
          I f it was distressing to Caroline, Beth, and Eddie, to the Hatford boys it was a shock. They positively bellowed when Mother told them the news.
    “What?” Wally's eyes almost popped out of his head.
    “Wally, stop shouting!” said his mother. “Aunt Ida and Uncle Bob are going to North Carolina for Thanksgiving this year, and it just wouldn't seem right not to have a crowd around the table. Mrs. Malloy was so pleased when I called and invited them to come.”
    As if that weren't enough, a letter arrived from the Benson boys down in Georgia:
    Dear Wally (and Jake, Josh, and Peter):
       You guys getting all ready for Thanksgiving? Boy, we are having a feast. Mom made reservations at this sort of southern mansion where it takes almost three hours to eat a meal, and there are supposed to be thirty different desserts to choose from and you eat as much as you want. I'll make a list of everything we eat and send it to you, and tell you whether I barfed later or

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